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 ConsConventions Updated: 01/09/15

Friday Saturday Sunday Monday

Of book sales and exploding narwhals


Arrived at Coventry on Friday just before one, got straight onto a bus to the hotel, and was dismayed when it drove straight past the stop it had used last time, and round half a mile of bus station before letting us off. I hauled my bag out of the bus station, over the road, and along fifty yards to the hotel. Check in, register, badge, goody bag, straight to the dealers' room, where I dropped off my books before going up to my room on the sixth floor. The lifts were still behaving as though Sirus Cybernetics had given up on them as a bad job. Finished unpacking, came back down to the dealers' room and set up my stall slightly while trying to contact Mariel. Not answering her phone, so off I went into the hotel to try and do a couple of things before the dealers' room opened at two. Very little luck, so I came back and finished setting up the stall, and settled in to start selling for a couple of hours. Presently Henry arrived with Martin, my roommate, in tow. We were introduced, conversation failed to happen, and they went off to see about getting an extra key just as Mariel rang me back. Since the main reason I wanted to ring her was to find out where Martin was and so on, this was about normal for my luck. Anyway...

At 4.30, it was cover the stall and off downstairs to Misha and Zoe's wedding. Except rehearsals were overrunning, and we were advised to come back in 15 minutes. So back upstairs I went, uncovered the stall, and fifteen minutes later covered it back up and went back downstairs. Went into the Courtyard Room, found a seat on the aisle near the front, and settled back to watch. The ceremony was officiated by Ambassador Londo Mollari (Lesley) and Captain Hector Barbossa (David), Misha looked dashing and paranoid, Zoe looked beautiful and frazzled (a tricky feat to pull off). When Londo asked the universally traditional question of whether anyone objected to the wedding, half a dozen people leapt to their feet drawing toy swords, and with cries of, "I object!" rushed in to attack the happy couple, who defended themselves with their own swords (and a Stupefy spell after Misha left his sword in someone's torso). The attackers despatched, the ceremony was completed with an Elven blessing and another one from what I presumed to be steampunk-type fandom with which I am not familiar. Londo then pronounced them man and wife, and Barbossa declared, "And may God have mercy on your souls!" After the applause had died away, Zoe stepped forward to throw her bouquet. She miscalculated the trajectory, it hit the chandelier not far from my head, and it crashed down in the row behind me (the bouquet, not the chandelier), where it was retrieved by Carrie, who had grabbed the seats next to me earlier. More cheering, then the ceremony was declared over and the celebrations just beginning, so we all got up and made our way forwards to congratulate the lucky pair.

Photo Photo Photo
Photo Photo

That done, it was back to the dealers' room. I settled down, and it wasn't long before Henry, Mariel and Martin came back to say, "Hi." This time conversation happened, covering the effects of people wearing costume in and out of various events and locations, and whether people might notice if, for example, aliens invaded during an Eastercon. They departed, I continued to try and sell books, and pretty soon it was closing time, so I covered the stall again and left. Out to Sainsbury's, stock up on food, back to room, eat some food, discover why it's a bad idea to not have any drink handy when eating a Bombay Bad Boy Pot Noodle with the sauce applied.

Food consumed, I headed downstairs and met Misha just outside the lifts who enjoined me to have cake. I went into the bar, found cake and had it. It was nice cake. I also got beer, drank beer, stood in the doorway during the second half of the opening ceremony and pub quiz, then sloped off to the ceilidh with more beer. I had decided that I didn't want to be lumbering around with my boots on this time, so I was wearing a pair of grip-socks in which to dance. Trouble was, they weren't all that grippy, but they were lighter than my boots, better than my regular socks, and no-one would have wanted to see my bare feet anyway. Took a picture of Misha and Zoe doing the opening dance, and completely failed to get a dance with the person I wanted to, usually because Mariel kept dragging me onto the dance floor before I could get close enough to ask. Oh well.


Ceilidh over. ZoeP, I, Alice (the camel), Mariel, Martin, Henry and shortly afterwards Judith all sat around one of the tables in the main hall discussing Mariel's Kube and singing folk tunes. Then we realised it was after two, and I headed off to bed, assuring Martin that another half hour wouldn't make that much difference. I went out to the lifts and pressed a button. Nothing for at least a minute, so I went up the stairs one floor. Heard a ding, so pressed another button. A lift turned up, I got in, pressed six, doors closed, movement, doors opened, out I went, fishing in my pocket for the key. Here's the room, door looks a bit different, why doesn't the key fit, come on you bastard - oh, this is the fourth floor, and I'm trying to get into the wrong room. Shit. Back to the lifts, press the button, here it is, and Alice is inside. Up to six, yes it is the right floor this time, and there's Martin at the door of our room wondering why I wasn't answering, having managed to get the only lift that worked as advertised during the whole weekend.



Got up at 8.30, down to breakfast, where I joined Carrie and KelvinLindsey. It always takes me a while to get used to seeing someone who I'm familiar with in trousers wearing a dress. Carrie told me about the door decorations for the Big Brother campaign for the Ruler of the Universe contest. After pulling in a respectable amount of votes at the last Redemption with Sabremeister of Tech on the spur of the moment, the Tech Crew were mounting an official campaign this year as Big Brother, and as part of this, last night Carrie had stuck little bits of paper reading things like "Fiction is Truth" and "Big Brother is watching you" ("Christ, he must be bored") on almost every hotel room door. Breakfast over, I went back to the room and collected things, dropped them off at the dealers' room and had a bit of a wander, before going back there for opening at 10am.

It soon became apparent to me that not many people were interested in buying fantasy books at a predominantly SF convention, and so I began considering alternative venues to sell my inevitable surplus at. There had been leaflets for Bristolcon lying around last night, so I fired up the borrowed laptop that I was using (because it had a battery life longer than that of a frog in a blender) and looked at it. Wow, it's cheap - oh, it's only one day, damn. That'd be a bit pointless for me to go all that way for just one day. Still, while I had the computer on, I decided to act on an idea I'd had since yesterday evening, following the conversation about aliens invading Eastercon. I wrote an idea proposal, and then promptly shut the computer down because I had no way of printing right now.

Lunch, at the table, was a pasty. Waiting. 2pm, time for a penguin. Zoe came by, and I gave her her and Misha's present, which had been sitting behind my desk since I'd arrived at the hotel. More waiting. 4pm, have another penguin. 5.30, finally give up with trying to stay awake behind the table, pack up and head back to the room for a kip.

Woke up at 6.30, had food, refined the proposal letter, went to bar, got beer, slipped into the main hall and hung around at the tech desk during the masquerade and cabaret. I earned a groat by closing the doors when KelvLindsey told me to. A deserved win for Uther Pendragon, but blimey, I must get round to being allowed to enter the maskerade or cabaret one of these days (I was apparently ineligible to do so because I was on a dealer & dance badge this time).

As soon as it was over, I found myself automatically heading forward to help with the de-rigging of the lights so we could rig up the disco lights. At some point I cut the back of the top joint of my left forefinger with a barely noticeable cut. I thought it'd stop in a minute, but no, it continued gushing blood, and so I made use of the tech desk's first aid kit and bunged a plaster on it. Finish rigging the lights, tape the cables down, go and get more beer, and return to the dance floor. Plenty of danceable tunes, on the theme of saints and sinners. Apparently, the air guitarists turned up early, so DJ Marwen tried to scupper them by switching to convention tunes, starting with The Timewarp. That filled the dancefloor, and so on went the night, with a nice mixture of convention tunes, rock classics, and disco. It ended at 2-ish after second renditions of The Timewarp, Star Trekkin' and one of Sweet Transvetite. KeLindsey encouraged everyone to leave by informing them that they'd be stuck in alarmed room by themselves if they weren't out of there in five minutes. So off I went to bed, completely failing to follow up with the woman I'd been dancing in proximity to for half the night.




Up at 8.30 again, breakfast with Carrie and Lindsey again, dropped things off in the dealers' room, hung around in the main room for a few minutes, nominated Carrie as my proxy and handed her my filled-in ballot form ("Ahh, good idea, thanks"), took an IngSoc armband, and went off to Ops to get my proposal letter printed. The third time I went, it was open, but I still had to wait a few minutes while Eddie went to get his laptop so that the printers could plug into it and therefore be able to print things. That done, I headed to the dealers' room just as it opened and uncovered the stall.

Not long after opening, a rather attractive artist began setting up a stall next to me. She did the cutest drawings of The Doctor I've ever seen, so I bought a sheet of all the different Doctors in front of the TARDIS, with the twelfth space filled by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart in front of the TARDIS. Chris O'Shea wandered by, and I asked him to hand my letter to someone on the Olympus committee. They were at the other end of the room, but, it being an L-shaped room, I hadn't spotted them.

Tables and chairs were re-arranged and seating materialised for the auction, which had been relocated to the dealers' room as Judith thought it would go on longer than the hour timeslot it had. I was persuaded to buy a Klingon-Cardassian Alliance uniform badge for 4, so when it was over I had to run up to my room and grab my chequebook, as I didn't have that much cash on me.

Lunch was another pasty at the table, followed by a penguin at 2.30-ish. Lindsey came by and gave me my groat, then went off to ask Ops what s/he should be doing. They didn't know, apparently. I waited a bit until the area was clear of customers, then asked Victoria, the artist, if she'd be interested in doing a cover for Book V, as I wasn't entirely happy with the are I already had, and the artist my sister had recommended hadn't got back to me yet about doing it. She agreed, details were exchanged, and I didn't sit down again in case I went to sleep. At 4pm we closed up and went down to the main room for the closing ceremony, and I once again hung around near the tech desk. Green Drazis beat Purple Drazis by about 100 points, they joined together in a coalition, and were promptly assassinated by Steve Rogerson who had donned a yellow Drazi leader-sash. The RUler of the Universe contest was, for once, as fairly fought as possible, and was a very close run thing. So close, in fact, that The Master had tied with Big Brother with 46 votes each. The Master made a victory speech, then handed over to Big Brother (one of the tech team on voice over through a voice changer), and it was revealed that the two winning candidates were working with each other! The Master laughed evilly and revealed his IngSoc armband as the picture changed to one of The Master with the slogan "Big Master is Watching You". Ceremony over, up we all went again to the dealers' room and hung around for an hour until it officially closed, progressively packing up as time went on.


All packed up and cleared away, I took my stuff up to my room, then came back down to help with tear-down. Until it started, I spent the time in the bar with Mariel, who was stroking her Kube and demanding we make conversation, so I told her about the book proposal idea I'd had for Eastercon. When it was time for tear-down to start, I went into the main room and started by photographing the mat that had been placed in front of the doors with the IngSoc logo on it. There followed an hour-and-a-half or so of lots of people taking up tape and wires, and taking down speakers and lights. Then the tech team (with me as well) went out for dinner at Nandos, paid for by the Con, and came back well fed ready to start the recoiling and inventorying process. As we re-coiled wires, somehow the conversation turned to marine life. If a great white shark thinks you're a seal, it will apparently attack you like, "a four-foot blender tackling you in the stomach and launching you thirty feet in the air.". And let us not forget the narwhal, which was one of the explanations for the Nautilis - or, at least, a narwhal that lived at the bottom of the ocean instead of near the surface, where the pressure is much greater, and therefore would be much larger, have much tougher hide, and have a tusk like steel, and so therefore could probably threaten an iron-hulled vessel. "But," Carrie pointed out, "a narwhal like that wouldn't come up to the surface to threaten shipping like that." "Not without exploding, no," I said.

We finished re-coiling and started the inventorying and packing part. Most things we found with no problem, but one item had all of us puzzled - a 13 amp male to IEC 10 amp female. This puzzled us for over an hour until we spotted that the kettle leads were labelled as 10 amp. That particular mystery solved, we went on to finish the task, but baulked at the final step of dismantling the stage. In our defence, it was half past midnight, so we were let go. I went to the bar and joined Mariel, Alice and a couple of others wibbling and squeeing over a borrowed internet. The internet left soon after, then Martin turned up warning Mariel that Henry, her room-mate was off to bed. Mariel disappeared, leaving me and Martin in the bar listening to a couple of people sort-of behind us discuss ... I forget, but it may have been something to do with a canal from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea to the Aral Sea. Other major engineering projects were discussed, and the subject turned to corrupt Italian Prime Ministers, then corrupt politicians, then monarchists, why Charles would not make a good King, why he wouldn't reign as Charles or Arthur, what his titles and honours actually were, demographic distribution in the Potterverse, slashfic in the Potterverse, slashfic in ancient Sumerian mythology, and the Monster Raving Loony Party. At about 2.15 Smurf turned up to congratulate us for being the last people up at the Con. We could not now go to sleep for something like 726 days so we could be the first people up at the next one. However, an hour or so later, with the conversation ebbing, I suggested to Martin that it would be a good idea to attempt sleep at this point. He and a couple of others agreed, and we left the remaining five or so to it.



Up a bit later than the previous two days, breakfast which was going cold and soggy (the bacon and hash browns) or cold and hard (the beans), then pack and bring everything down to the landing outside the main room, to wait for it to be opened. Lindsey turned up just before 10 and turned off the alarm through the keyhole, the same way it had just been set off. I shoved my stuff inside, checked out, and went back up to help with dismantling the stage. This basically consisted of sliding around under the stage on my back unscrewing wingnuts on locking bars, then turning the stage decks upside down and pulling the legs off. Then it was basically hang around until 10.45, where we discussed frequency of Con tech crew volunteers, the poor marketing of IDWCon09 and the abysmal marketing of IDWCon11, and could we persuade the hotel to bring a clock in with each tray of refreshment so we would know how long it had been there for by the time we noticed it. At 10.45 I put on my coat and backpack drag my case to the station, get the train to Birmingham New Street (aka the Black Pit of Where The Hell is my Bloody Train Going to Come In?), get the train from there to Leeds, start writing this up, change at Leeds for the train to Keighley, and forget to pick up my backpack when I got off there. Fortunately, I realised I'd done this in time for me to call the lost property office just as the train was getting in to Skipton, so they had a look and found it before some little tea-leaf walked off with it.