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 ConsConventions Updated: 01/05/17

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Friday

Train down, tube to Heathrow, bus to the Radisson Edwardian Hotel (I successfully refrained from saying, "the Radisson non-Euclidean," to the bus driver). I got my badge and goody bag, decided on a black lanyard as being the colour that blended best with my attire, and trudged upstairs to the main room. Once again being a zombie, my greeting to Kelvin, head of Tech, was, "Braaaaiins." He responded with a salute. I dumped my stuff, then had a wander, placing flyers for my books in strategic locations (I'd stayed up past midnight the night before, so I could release the latest on the day Eastercon started). Then, since Mariel had threatened to drag me to the Ceilidh that night, I went to the Ceilidh Workshop that was just starting to try and refresh my memory of what woud be required. She wasn't there, which was mildly disappointing, but also somewhat of a relief.

After that, I took another, longer wander, exploring the Con, taking in the art show (which included a few exhibits of steam punk technology), before heading back to the main room to catch the end of the Utopias panel, followed by the whole of the How Writers Artists & Illustrators interact panel. There was a wide variety of "surprisingly not"-type answers for comic books, one of which resulted in a particular panel showing Judge Dredd being attacked by a man wielding a piece of cheese (rather than the intended cheesewire). Then it was off to MacDonald's next door for dinner, followed by back to the main room to await developments. The UK film premiere of Universal Soldier: Regeneration was being shown, to a noticeably small audience. It was during this that it emerged that we were having problems with one of the projectors. So, after fiddling with it for a while, swapping cables, etc, we decided the VGA cable was dodgy. We didn't have time to fiddle then, as we needed to get ready for the Opening Ceremony.

I was assigned to backstage for the Opening Ceremony, so I didn't get to see the opening video sequence while I waited to herd Guests and Committee onstage. We couldn't find Mike Carey (one of the Guests), and it was assumed he was irretrievable in the bar, so when it came time to introduce him, Chris O'Shea was going to move swiftly on to the next Guest. But then a hand went up in the auditorium, and a voice rang out, "I'm here!" Mike Carey had arrived front of house before anyone could corral him backstage, and had been sitting in the audience. He was invited up, and after Chris had told everyone who he was, he said a few words and sat down with the others. Another of the Guests, Carlos Esquerra, was unable to attend due to his wife being taken ill, and so there was some programme re-arrangement needing to be announced, and after that, that was pretty much it.

After the Opening Ceremony, We had to try and fiddle with the projector that was suspected dodgy. We found another and swapped it, it worked, but the computer it needed to work with was less certain. Eventually, it was figured out how to get everything up and running at the same time. Then we had to get back to the main hall, to set up for the Ceilidh, which was once again played by Pigeon English. It was some time before Mariel arrived in very short combat shorts and a T-shirt. And after she hit the dancefloor, it wasn't long before she had taken the T-shirt off, citing excessive warmth. She didn't actually drag me up to dance, but I managed a few dances with, among others, ZoeIona (who I spent some time during the interval talking book-type technical stuff with), and a rather nice-looking elfin redhead, who I never saw again the entire weekend.

The Ceilidh ended, and while waiting for the band to clear up, I wandered around preparing the room to be secured overnight. It took a while for the band to clear, and I fell into to talking with Misha, Spike and Nova, discussing various outlandish ideas for sketches for the cabaret that had to be heard to be believed (Harry Potter-Transformers crossover, Star Wars or Daleks as a barbershop quartet, and so on). The hotel staff came in and began clearing away, which they weren't supposed to do - it had been arranged that they would do things like fiddling with chairs and tables in the morning, but it seemed to be a characteristic of the hotel staff that one department didn't talk to another. Anyway, I finally persuaded them to stop, and Misha and the others left. They wondered why I was staying there, so I told them. "Oh, you poor fellow," said one of them, "Is there anything we can do, anything we can get you?" "Horde of naked women?" I suggested. They looked doubtful, then one suggested they fetch Mariel from the games room. Unfortunately, she'd already gone to bed at that point, so I closed doors, armed alarms, and went to bed myself.

 

Saturday

I was woken up by my alarms being triggered at 6am, and again at 7am. This was Not Good, as the hotel were supposed to start in the hall at 8am. Still, I managed to get sufficient sleep, and just after eight, the hotel staff attempted again to get in and start resetting seats. I let them this time, as it meant I could go and have breakfast. I met Boggis at breakfast, and he suggested a pulling strategy for me, given that I had the largest room in the hotel, with a kick-arse sound system and a huge TV. While completely honest, it's not exactly truthful. Still, never mind.

First up was the quarterstaff workshop with Steve Kilblane, which needed the rear several rows of chairs cleared from the hall. This we accomplished, then people started arriving, and we needed to cear more rows. Then, after signing a disclaimer form, the workshop happened. Then as we finished, we had to reset the chairs for the next item in the hall, a panel about the influence of 2000AD. I gave this a miss, and had a wander. When I came back, the panel was still in full flow, so I got my laptop and sat quietly at the side, netsurfing in the dark. I finished just in time to be ready for the Iain M Banks GoH interview, which I wanted to see. I've never quite got round to reading Banks, I've always seemed to have not enough money when I see him on bookshelves, and when I have money, I've not seen him on shelves. So, a couple of weeks back I got Look to Windward and State of the Art out of the library and read them, in preparation for this weekend. Anyway - very good interview, Iain is a very funny man.

There followed a lecture by Ben Goldacre entitled Bad Science. I was about to go and have lunch, when Jane turned up and asked me to cover her on the tech desk in the Connaught room, for the WorldCon 2014 London bid panel Q&A session. So it was at 1pm that I had lunch, paid for by Groats handed out by Kelvin a few hours ago. At 2pm, surprisingly tired, I went back to the Connaught room for the Writers and the Web panel, concerning writers using blogs and websites and so on to promote and sell their work. Apparently the technique is not to sell directly, just post regularly to build up an audience, and happen to mention at the right time that you've got a new book out, and those who follow the blog will be more likely to buy it.

After that, I went to the Swordplay for Writers workshop that it tuned out Steve K was running. I recognised the swords being laid out on the front desk, and realised I had been to this before, at Redemption '07, and it hadn't been advice on writing combat sequences, but advice on writing how weapons actually handled. So I decided that I would be better employed helping out at the Masquerade and Cabaret rehearsal, which was just starting then. I spent a considerable amount of time fiddling around backstage, setting up and testing extra sets of cans on the circuit in various places, and working out where to put them. It was a rushed rehearsal for everyone, we only had time to do entrance, effects, and exit cues (which is pretty much usual). We needed to get gophers on the doors near the end to stop people coming in early for the screening of Doctor Who, the first episode of the new series, the first episode with the new Doctor. We guessed we'd need to have the people in the tech tower spotting for when the standing room became too crowded. As it turned out, we didn't need standing room, although the main hall was packed. Food had arrived for the tech team shortly before, so we munched on it while we waited. And at 6.20, Doctor Who, "The Eleventh Hour", began.

Two words: Awe. Some.
And the "Coming soon..." bit - Cybermen, Spitfires in space, Weeping Angels, Autons(?), and Renegade Daleks (not Imperial Daleks, Renegade Daleks)! Wow! I think I'll repeat it: AWE! SOME!

Immediately after Doctor Who was the Masquerade and Cabaret, and it was when the MC reminded everyone that a photocall for the Masquerade would happen after it, I remembered that I had so far not taken any photographs. So I prepared to scoot down the front and snap things. Ye Gods, that kid dressed up as the evolved-dinosaur superhero was annoying!

Photo Photo

Then came the cabaret, starting excellently with the Reduced Star Wars Company doing Star Wars: A Small Hope, and followed shortly by Nova, Spike and Misha depicting what happens when Voldemort threatens Rincewind with the consequences for making a monkey out of him, within The Librarian's earshot. After that, it went downhill rather, and ended on a burlesque piece, which was a considerable rise in quality from the previous entries. Persephone Hazard, the MC, who I felt was nowhere near as good as Chris O'Shea, ended the event by singing Big Spender noticeably more in-key than the other singers had sung their pieces, then we chased the audience out while we hauled down the lights and strung up disco lights for the New Romantics-themed disco. Doors open, DJ Marwen started playing, we left to cash in our most recent batch of Groats while the event warmed up.

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It wasn't long before I considered there were enough people in there, and the music good enough to warrant me going back in. Slight mistake, as, although yes, the music was good, I am just slightly too young to remember the New Romantic period, and therefore recognised most of the songs only halfway through. Marwen claimed Sweet Transvestite was cheating slightly. He followed it with another tune he thought was cheating slightly - I informed him that The Timewarp is never cheating. The evening came to an end, and once again I had to argue the hotel staff into not cleaning up until the morning. This time, I had notices for the doors, which prevented any early morning interruptions - although the sound of trolleys rattling past at six in the morning still woke me.

 

Sunday

Up and about by eight, when I took the signs down and disarmed the alarms. At about quarter past, a hotel manager came in and asked how I was. "Tired," I replied. "Good, good," was his response. He then went on to order in the reset staff to clear up and shift tables and things, and once they arrived, I headed to breakfast. Breakfast over, the first task of the day was to reset for general running after the disco. The first event started at 10am, so we had plenty of time, in theory. We got it all done just in time anyway, then I went off to find somewhere quiet to try and write some of this up. I was back in time for Alastair Reynolds' talk on SF changing with the times, which needed a feed from his laptop to the projector. It didn't seem to be working, though, so we got the slideshow on USB stick and ran it straight from the main desk - however, because the projector had been reset overnight somehow, it was all in black & white. The talk ended just in time for us to try and find out what was up with the projector before the next item, and I went off to see the demonstration by the Society for Creative Anachronisms - a load of idiots hitting each other with sticks, basically.

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I wonder where I can sign up?

Photo Photo

Depressed. I may get around to finishing this some day

 

Monday

 

Tuesday