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 ConsConventions Updated: 01/05/17

Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday

Thursday

I got up in plenty of time, unlike my last foray away from home, and got packed and off. I still managed to not pack my PJs or sleep mask, though. A series of trains got me down to Coventry by about 2pm, and after a few minutes waiting, I met up with Nicola again. We managed to find a bus into the city centre that didn't charge, so we made it to the hotel relatively easily. I was a Zombie, as in I was sleeping in the main hall as an extra security precaution, because not all the doors had locks. Nicola was sharing a room, and had to wait for the other person to check in. So that meant we both hung around in reception, until I remembered the Stage Electrics van I'd seen going round the corner just before we got to the hotel. I decided to find out where it had gone, so I went out and round the corner, and found Mariel helping to unload additional Tech/Con supplies. She promised that as soon as she had any idea where I was supposed to go, she'd text me. So back inside I went, and I next saw her a few minutes later, helping to push a laden baggage trolley into one of the erratically operating lifts (controlled by the ghost of Douglas Adams, as the Con newsletter put it). So I went along as well, found Ops, and then Matt showed me where the Connaught room was - the main hall, where Kelvin and the Stage Electrics guy were setting up. I greeted him with a finely moaned rendition of, "Braaaaaains!" He immediately set me to work, assembling the lighting rig, setting up the main projector screen, then moving the stage, and re-dressing the front of it. It didn't seem long before other techies were joining us, and it wasn't long after that that the lights were set up.

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Next, the sound had to be done, and cables gaffer-taped to the floor, and so on. Nicola arrived sometime during all this, and, for want of anything better to do, joined in the taping-down. The day wore on, I went up to Nicola's room to collect my bag (where she'd taken it upon checking in), met her room-sharer (Ruth, the Mad Avon-Lady, who also has a Transformers fixation). It was about the right time, so we went out for dinner. We wandered through Coventry, past a Nandos, over a bridge over a sort-of pit-thing with display cases scattered around it (the remains of the bombed cathedral, I'd guess), to a Whetherspoons. We went in, we ordered. Or rather, I tried to order, got asked to prove my age, so I got the only thing I have with my photo and date of birth on it, and was told I needed to supply my driving licence or passport. What!?!? I live in this country, so why would I have my passport with me? Also, I don't drive, so I don't have a driving licence. What it amounts to is anyone who can't drive not being able to buy a drink in a place they're legally entitled to, in their country of birth and/or residence. Fucking ridiculous. We left, myself feeling demeaned and humiliated. We went to Nandos instead, and had a fairly nice meal, that at first nearly went to the wrong table.

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We got back to find the others at dinner. Kelvin gave me a remote to turn off the alarm on the main door, and in we went. Some time later, it was time for the final throes of setting up. Kelvin briefed me on the other alarms, and the various keys that were available were handed over. Flight cases parked, tablecloths draped over them, things made to look nice and neat. Right. Unfold the supplied z-bed and get some sleep. In theory, anyway.

 

Friday

A comparatively late start, followed by most of the day trying to cope with getting the Con going. Breakfast, registration, create some Tech crew badges at Ops, set up some funky LED lights and a sound system in the Cavedish - not an easy task, as we had to turn the room around in order to let everyone have a decent view before we could start bringing stuff in. Lunch. Off to the ceilidh workshop for a bit of semi-enjoyable exercise. Semi-enjoyable, because, whilst I enjoyed things like country dancing at primary school, this time I was wearing boots, and that always does hamper my dancing style. Ceilidh workshop over, final preparations. Realise the main hall is set up wrong (all theatre, we want half-theatre, half-banquet), so in come the hotel staff to put this right as we put hazard tape on anything that isn't actually moving right now. Election posters for Ruler of the Universe are already appearing, and also being stuck on anything not moving. Hotel restaurant buffet dinner, back to the Connaught. Setup mostly completed, last-second prep, I'm not required for anything, so we try and find a table, and keep a look out for Misha and Mariel and others to join us. Opening ceremony, the usual banter from Chris O'Shea, the mixer game, the pub quiz (we found Misha for this, joined his table, but nevertheless did abysmally. Quick change round, clear the chairs, get the dancefloor in, time for some liquid refreshment, back in time for the start of the ceilidh. All but one person in the room (nine) got up on the dancefloor for the first dance. So - ceilidh from ten, intermittent drinks and rests, and dancing, getting more energetic as the night wore on. The ceilidh ended fairly promptly at one, people and things were cleared away, I set the alarms, and was in bed by two. The people in the bar next door weren't, though.

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Saturday

Up before seven, in order for the hotel staff to clear the dancefloor and tables and reset theatre seats. As soon as they turned up and started doing, I went over to Nicola's room to catch a little more sleep. Got back up, went down to breakfast, back up to the Connaught, make sure things are running well for the day, then up to the Cavendish for the first item. I'm thinking about starting on the Vorkosigan saga, and the first item was about the books, so doing tech for it was a good opportunity to find out a bit more. And it was - gave me some good teasers to think about.

After that, I have no idea what I did next - both mind and programme book completely blank. I think a trip to Ops may have been involved, and printing some posters for the Irish DiscWorld Convention, and lunch, there was definitely lunch. Then we went to the Three Spires to set up an IDWCon table. I was around and about a few places, bouncing back and forth on various random errands to the Connaught, but generally sitting at the table, until one time I came back and Nicola told me to go to the Martial Arts Mythbusters in the Courtyard.

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So I did, for the first half, anyway. Then I was down for tech in the Cavendish again, this time for a writing workshop with Paul Cornell. He put that notion to death quite quickly, by deciding it was imposible to hold a workshop from behind a desk. So if he wants a mic, I have to recover a wire and lead it halfway across the room. Does he want a mic? No, actually. Okay, but it turns out the room's layout is buggered for the other events that day. But that's not my problem right now, as straight afterwards, I'm off to Pine upstairs for the Air Guitar Workshop. Oh, yes. Motörhead, Green Day, Led Zeppelin, Ozzy, Blink 182, and many others. Then back down to the tech alcove with my new inflatable guitar, then up to the Cavendish for a Star Trek panel, and yes, the room was all turned round.

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Dinner, Nicola and I went down to the restaurant, hoping we could join up with Misha and Mariel as previously planned. However, they had managed to get down there before us, and when we tried to move onto a bigger table, a waitress turned up and told us we had to move back and sit at our two tables (of four and two). Dinner over, we went up to the Connaught to help with the last of the preparations for the Maskerade and Cabaret. Boggis had brought some bendy glowsticks. Combined with the huge boxes of maltesers, they made for a very amused tech crew and associates. Setup done, doors opened, and I was feeling tired, so we went back to Nicola's room to have a bit of a kip. We got back to the Connaught an hour or so later, during the Cabaret. I think the best was Misha as The Doctor, crashing the Council of Elrond, and using the sonic screwdriver to not only destroy Barad-dûr, but to de-power Morgoth and the Silmarils as well. After it all finished, there was a quick re-arrangement, and then the disco started. Time for a couple of dances first, then Kelvin ushered the tech crew into the bar for drinks. Drinks, photos, chatting, Nicola sitting on my lap as there were no spare chairs. Then off back into the disco, alternately dancing with Nicola and air-guitaring - but someone had stolen my inflatable guitar! So, I borrowed others as and when they became available, and fished out a mic stand as well. I made sure another inflatable guitar was always in sight, so I could reclaim it later. Rather late, Nicola went into the bar again, while I rocked out.

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A litte while later, there was a lull, and I recognised a tune coming in. I dashed into the bar, and dragged Nicola back to the disco, because the tune was YMCA. And so we danced until the end of the night, including Star Trekkin', Blame it on the Boogie, The Macarena, and even a second rendition of The Time Warp, after I said I missed the first one. Then it was 2am, and close-down time. Clear up, persuade the last hangers-on to go into the bar, close, lock and/or alarm the doors, go up and lock the Cavendish. Problem: all the keys, including the one to the Cavendish are in the locked cashbox on the tech desk. I come back down to find another problem: one of the alarms has decided not to work properly. Solution: Take it down, swap it for the one on the Cavendish door, and get the door locked somehow. Persuaded the hotel to do it, in the absence of a way to open the cashbox. Arm the final alarm, z-bed out, sleepy-byes.

 

Sunday

Up at seven again. Really tired, so over to Nicola's room to finish sleeping. Get up, breakfast (toast was cold and soggy), over to the Connaught. I'm just in time to take the lighting desk for the first item of the day that I'm supposed to be teching for, but actually spend most of the first half of the event buzzing around sorting out some other stuff. There are mutterings running through the tech crew that we should put a candidate up for the Ruler of the Universe election, and how exactly we would go about it. By the time of the end of the second event, we had worked out how it could be done - someone would be made up to look like a certain antagonist character-race from a certain popular American SF TV show, and would be sent to the hustings. I decided to cut short my lighting desk duties, delay lunch, and volunteer. I pulled on my long-sleeved black "crew" shirt from last year's DWCon, grabbed all my electronic devices and hung them about me, then stood at the back of the Connaught as Kelvin and Matt festooned me with cables, a radio, an LED penlight, a torch, and stuck it all on with gaffer tape. "We are Sabremeister of Tech. Your votes will be assimilated. Resistance is futile."

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I went over to the Three Spires, where the hustings were. We arrived in time for our entry to be submitted. I lurched around menacingly, as Kelvin used the radio to bark ominous slogans, mainly about which of the rival candidates would be assimilated. Londo urged me to assimilate Centauri rival Cathargia II, and I did. Others were assimilated, incuding Cartagia's pet (toy) cats, The Doctor, Londo, and a couple of members of the RSF guard. Then followed the mayhem of voting, with the RSF stealing all the pens, all the ballot forms, and stuffing the ballot box with photocopied votes for themselves, as everyone else tried to stop them. After a while, we returned to the Connaught, and the gaffer tape was hastily removed, so I could go and have lunch, then man the IDWCon sign-up table in the Three Spires again.

At around 3.45, things had dried up in the Three Spires, so we went back to the Connaught, to help prep for the Closing Ceremony. I created a simple powerpoint thing to show who had won the Drazi points contest, purple or green, that we could switch to the winner when they were announced. Londo had asked to be assimilated for the event, and had provided a script for us to Borg-ify over the speakers, so that took some frantic setup, especially when combined with marshalling the results of the Ruler of the Universe election, the results of which reached us very late. Then I took my place at the lighting desk, and we off we went. Green Drazi won (I and most of the tech crew were purple) by about 300 points. In the election, Barbossa got 72, Londo got 31, Cartagia II got 7, Megatron (despite having to withdraw) got 2, Brigade-Leader Lethbridge-Stewart got 532 (out of a Con attendance of about 350), Dexter the Dinosaur got 74, Tech got 40, Og (who hadn't stood for this or the last election) got 3, a cardboard cutout of Barack Obama got 9, Jet Morgan got 1, and Google got 1. So, without ballot stuffing, the Brigade Leader of the Republic Security Forces got 110 votes, and therefore won anyway.

Closing Ceremony over, and it was off to the Pines for "What Other Conventions Are Coming Up?" to plug the IDWCon. Then down to the Connaught to help with the very fast tear-down, then dinner, then various forms of dead-dog party, until we finally returned to the Connaught to help with the last bits of clearing up and finding bits of Stage Electric inventory and making sure they were all there and which bits were surplus, and who owned the bits that weren't either, and so on. I noticed that five photos from my camera had made it into the newsletter. Eventually got everything cleared away and the z-bed out by just short of midnight, whereupon a final issuance of groats was made, with which I bought food for myself and Nicola.

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Monday

A rather late stay in bed, breakfast, back to the Connaught to watch Farscape while we waited for the Stage Electrics people to turn up and reclaim their kit, which happened rather promptly. Then borrowed a baggage trolley to help Matt load up the car for the return trip, finished watching Farscape, hung a round a bit, then left the hotel. Bought lunch at Sainsbury's, walked through Coventry to the station, and that was, basically, it.