|DW Con '04
Friday Saturday Sunday
ToastScone & Jam Monday Dead Monkey Tuesday
Things didn't start well - when I got to Leeds, I found out that due to a failed train near Fitzwiliam (wherever the hell that is), my train had been cancelled. I had to get a train to Sheffield and get the train following mine from there to Birmingham, so I arrived at the hotel an hour late. The dealers' room still wasn't open, though, so I was able to get in and get set up alright. The doors opened just before 3pm, and we were subjected a surge of potential customers, which trickled away as the afternoon wore on. I made a few sales, which proved my idea was sound, and damn near froze to death, as the hotel had the aircon on "very cold". This would be a problem throughout the weekend in the dealers' room, except possibly on Monday.
We closed at seven, and I met up with Andrew and Roy for dinner and a chat. I started a game of noughts and crosses on the voodoo board, and we went off to Harga's and joined the queue, but they had temporarily run out of chicken, and as the alternative was fish lasagne, Andrew and I had to wait a long time to eat. We made it just in time for the Opening Ceremony, though (just!), and managed to get good seats near the front.
Straight after the Opening Ceremony were the Guild meetings. At a late stage, I had been recruited as the second deputy for the non-competing Bonk Operatic Society (Essy was the first deputy), and so I had to find out where we were meeting, head across the hall to The Odium, and wait. Just under a dozen people turned up, and I distributed guild stickers to them, and we wibbled about what we would do, and how would we go about it. Eric was a veritable fount of ideas, as long as they involved music - which, considering what our guild was called, gave us quite a lot of things to do. I summarised our Guild: "We sing, we dance, and I can handle a sword a little."
After a brief trip to the bar, it was time for Terry & Rob's Bedtime Stories, where we were treated to a series of bad willy jokes by Rob. Fortunately, PTerry came on stage and stopped him. They sat down, and Rob read quite a lot of stuff from the early draft of Snuff, about Vimes going on a trip to his wife's hereditary country estate with his family. After that, it was off to The Cavern for the first A Time and A Place for Music, which is surely the first event where we would have picked up most of our guild points, had we been eligible to get them. We kept on singing until Eric asked what the time was. "A quarter to two," I told him. "Oh shit!" he said, and we packed up.
Woke up early on Saturday, had breakfast, loitered in Biers for a bit, then went to the dealers' room so I could have a browse. Didn't buy anything yet, and went back to my stall to freeze and await the public. When we opened at 10, there was a big rush. Most people at the Con seemed to come in on Saturday morning, and it was certainly the day I did the briskest business. When I was waiting for the concierge bus at the station on Friday to take me to the hotel, I met a group of Germans. Two of them came into the dealers' room and had a close look at my stall. The youngest of them seemed unwilling to meet my eye, but was very happy to smile at me. They bought Book I. The stall next to me had until then been unoccupied, but now the occupants turned up and started advertising Redemption '11 and Olympus (Eastercon 2012). I'd already signed up for Redemption '11, and now I signed up for Olympus as well. They had their toy robot dinosaur, Dexter, with them, which was very good at attracting passing trade. An assassin wandered by - this allowed me to take a photo demonstrating the unfortunate combination of our guilds' abbreviations.
Lunch, and I found Torak in the bar, pouring vinegar over his chips-in-a-cup. As we ate, we talked, mostly sniping about the last IDWCon and their rather uninformative leaflet (no date, venue, guest list, email address, or opportunity to join a mailing list) for the next one, complaining about the overpriced food, and poring over the questions for the Impossibly Difficult Quiz Torak was running for the Assassins.
Lunch over, I went back to the dealers' room, and sold more books. Long, slow afternoon, though. I had arranged for a gopher to cover for me at 5.30, so I could go and see the second half of Going Postal in Technicolour, a beind-the-scenes look at the making of Going Postal hosted by Ian Sharples from The Mob. My plan was to talk to him at the end and try and persuade him to give a showreel I had prepared to Vadim Jean, on the basis that the next one they did was going to be Sourcery. However, near the end, PTerry came on and between them they announced that the next one was actually going to be Unseen Academicals. So, my showreel was now rather pointless, as it focused on me auditioning for the part of Nigel the Destroyer. I hung around anyway, and on the way out managed to collar Colin. We settled down in one of the sofas in the corridor and began to talk about the possibility of me getting my books published. He recommended someone, and said he'd send me a list of publishers and so on who might be interested. And then I had to get back to the dealers' room fast, because I'd overrun on the time I'd arranged the gopher for.
Seven o'clock, dinner in the bar, hang around, in to watch the Maskerade. The details of the acts have largely escaped me in the haze of fatigue and alcohol that the weekend inevitably produced, but I thought BriD as Vetinari Retiring was good. I wasn't entering this time - I did have an idea way back in '08, but earlier this year I realised I wouldn't be able to pull it off. Also, having entered three times previously, and won a prize all three times (group entry Rookies 1st prize and Best in Show in 2004, Bravery in the Face of Technical Meltdown in 2006, and 1st in Master Class in 2008), I figured I was due a break. While waiting for the judges to complete their deliberations, we were treated to the candidates for the Low King making their appeals for votes. Then it was off to Lancre Forge for the Hedgehog Party. It wasn't long before Shevek and his minions wheeled in speakers and a DJ kit. It wasn't long after that that I first really felt that I was actually at the Con.
I slept! I actually slept! Okay, so the Hedgehog party ended at something like 4am, so I didn't sleep long, but I slept. I got up a little later than I had on Saturday, had breakfast, had a very quick wander, and went to the dealers' room again. Some of the badge names people had chosen! "Fregg the Barbarian" - is that a noun or a verb? And if it's a verb, how exactly would you go about it, and what would happen afterwards? "Dave the Disinterested". Someone had "Death's Little Helper" on their badge, but unfortunately they didn't read Order of the Stick. And then I saw this shirt:
Can I get a, "Hell, yeah!"?
Lunchtime, and I went over to Harga's to grab a couple of apples and a bag of crisps before hightailing it all the way to Morpork at the other end of the hotel to catch Orjan's How to Buckle a Swash. Last night, Kirstine (aka Glingle Feegle from 2008) and I had reminisced about our fencing with chopsticks at the end of IDWCon. We realised that there may be some people with fencing kit here that we might be able to borrow to have a proper rematch. We'd sort-of arranged it with Gideon at the Hedgehog Party, and so we both turned up to see if there was time. Turned out there wasn't. Oh well, maybe next time. Back to the dealers' room. Another long, slow afternoon, but I did get my first repeat customer, who'd bought Book I on Friday, had now finished it, and wanted Book II. Yaay!
Seven o'clock, closing time. Dropped some stuff off at my room, then came back down and had dinner in the bar. Watched all the people dressed up going to the Gala Dinner. Took photos of some of them, including Tal and David who were going in their wedding outfits, seeing as how he proposed to her at the '08 Convention.
I hung around on the concourse chatting to Kirstine, who was wearing a tea-
cake cosy - sorry, a crinoline dress, as people filed into The Dysk to get their pre-dinner free drink. I joined the queue at about half past, got my drink about ten minutes later, and hung around with Essy at the back while Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer finished his set and we had the Crowning of the Low King. Jennifer Delaney had beaten all the other candidates, including Chris Boote and CCooke. Without waiting for anything else, I headed off to the ToastScone & Jam.
This was the first time I'd been at the T&J for its' full duration, and I was going to enjoy it. To this end, I had prepared some numbers which I wanted to sing, and had let Eric see the tabs on Friday, for his opinion on whether they were possible. It was a relatively quiet start, and I ended up shuttling back and forth between the music stand and the side table where Eric kept his music library, and handling people's requests. My first piece was actually not one of my selection, Basket Case by Green Day. I got lost a little in the instrumental break, as I usually do with such things, but never mind.
The evening went on, the songs got better. I sung again, we had a guest spot from Graham Higgins, Fred Finster came on and played, I sung some more, Torak guested on the drums, Menno sang to us, and Eric had lots of fags. Finally, it was time for the last few songs. After consultation with Stuart and Eric, the last six pieces were decided on, and the band launched into them. I managed to arrange it so I could sing the one that ended up as the climax of the set - Common People by Pulp. I performed it with my usual enthusiasm, and that means awesome happened. I led the audience in thanking the band, and we finished with something nice and silly to cool things down with - The Internet is for Porn.
We carried on in an unofficial capacity afterwards, but I was suffering from the late ending of the Hedgehog Party, and I had pretty much sung everything I could (without straining my throat, which was already complaining from dehydration) from Eric's library over the course of the weekend. I turned in, but not before getting a photo of PTerry surrounded by people on the concourse.
Monday, and I was up slightly earlier than yesterday, as I had some other things to attend to. Done, I hung out with Vincent for a bit, before going to the dealers' room and buying the paperback of Unseen Academicals from the Waterstones stall. The doors opened, and once again the public wafted in. The Germans, who, in various numbers, had been through several times, came in again and bought Book II. The youngest was still smiling at me a lot, and I was beginning to get a bit of a hint as to why. Not that I could do anything about it, even if I wanted to. Half an hour after that, they were back again, buying Book III. I couldn't persuade them to buy Book IV, but I did get a couple of other repeat customers.
Kirstine came through, sore and worn out from her activites last night at the Rat Races, the other alternative to the Gala Dinner, one that had leached away a significant portion of the T&J's audience. She couldn't feel her toes, so she was walking stifly and wearing fluffy slippers. And in an hour or so, she had to go and see how many people could fit under her crinoline. Meanwhile, at the stall next to me, the Redemption people were packing up, and Dexter was put to sleep.
Naturally, at this point, we got a big rush of customers, so they had to postpone putting him away.
One o'clock, and we closed up promptly so we could all crowd in to the Dysk and watch the special production for this year, a unique performance of The Rocky Horror Discworld Show. It in no way lived up to the hype or expectations, nor was The Timewarp done well. I could tell which one of the extras Nic was at all times - possibly something to do with distinct body language. Without waiting for the encores, I left and started taking down my stall, packing everything away, and getting it all back to my room. Then I came back down and hovered in Biers for a bit. I found Vincent and talked to him for a while, then Peter Morwood came to the bar, and I got into a conversation with him about swords. I lurked on the edge of his group until the Closing Ceremony started, then I went and found a seat in the Dysk next to Roy. And at the end, I did something rather silly: I volunteered to be on the next ConCom.
After the closing ceremony, I found people in the concourse to talk to. Kirstine, Torak and Essy were there, and we arranged to repeat what we had done last time, and march into the Dead Monkey Party singing about gold. Then Essy told me that all the deputies were owed beer tokens from the Monks of Cool. I spied Gideon and Snow a few yards away and collared them. By the time I'd got my token, the others had completely disappeared. I had a look for them, didn't find them, and went to Biers, where I joined CCA, Hunter and Edmund (and later Eric) for consumption of beer and food.
Eight o'clock, and I began to leave. I spotted Torak, and we managed to round up a couple of more people to join us in our march on Lancre Forge. I set a rather brisk pace, as is appropriate for Colonel Bogey, but the others had trouble keeping up, so I slowed down, and got my arms out of sequence with my legs. All in all, our entrance was much less noticeable than it had been last time. But worse - Kirstine and I were the only Guild Deputies there, and no-one from the ConCom, so that meant we were (probably) in charge!
We settled down to passing the time in various ways - there were lots of balloons, some giant foam croquet mallets, some food, some games, and a couple of Twister mats. A handful of us managed to wrap Kirstine up in them and carry her outside on the pretence of dropping her in the lake. When we put her down, one of the group turned to go to the bar, and went face-first into a plate-glass window - the mark on the glass was still there the next day. We went back in, and it wasn't long before Torak recruited self and Essy to help him run a live fire Walk the Walk. We got about five competitors before the enthusiasm ran out - everyone else was occupied with Werewolf, Twister, and Catchphrase-Borrowing (a mutant form of the Borrowing game, using catchprases from DW characters instead of animal noises, invented by one of my guild whose name I have completey forgotten - sorry!). Kirstine found a couple of the giant mallets that seemed to be undamaged, and she and I and some spectators went out into the corridor to fence with them. We used epee rules, and I won 5-3. We went back in, I played one round of werewolf, and then, having drained the last of my beer, had a chat with Nicola that I'd been putting off all weekend.
I went back in and talked to Kirstine, who was sitting possesively on the Twister mats. Games of Twister were played, with varying numbers of people, and in between we emptied pixie sticks into drinks, and stuck them between Kirstine's toes. There would be photographs of all this if my camera batteries hadn't died. At some point not long after the bar in Lancre Forge closed, the ConCom returned from their dinner with the Guests. Shevek and Drachii joined us, and Shevek played Kirstine and Brenna at Twister. Surprisingly, Kirstine was the first to go, and Shevek and Brenna carried on a very long game with increasingly interesting contortions being required. I forget who won.
Not long after, Shevek gave a bit of a demonstration of a training technique involving balance and redirecting forces. After that, and the hit entertainent of the night began - another training technique of Shevek's, that can best be described as wrist fencing. Brenna was incredibly good at it, and she was encouraged by everyone to take up fencing, so she could come back in two years and wipe the floor with us. Kirstine and I faced each other multiple times at this, the honours being mostly even, and we resolved that next time, we should get our hands on some actual swords. It would be interesting, that much was known in advance.
Anyway, by 2am, Kirstine was flagging, and I wasn't up to much either by then. We left instructions on what to do for closing up with the person running the werewolf game, and turned in.
I had a bit of a lie in before going off to breakfast. Then back up to the room to pack and check out, then spent my time in Biers writing this up. Eric went off to have a fag, and his bags (which he'd left by the table) began beeping - it was his alarm clock, which kept going until Eric arrived back and shut it off. At half-eleven it was nearly time for me to get the concierge bus back to the station, so I packed up the laptop and wandered round Biers saying goodbye to people. I said goodbye to the Irish contingent, and had departed and was halfway across the bar before I remembered something. Last night, Eric had suggested to a rather drunk Simon that IDWCon might like to pay his expenses for him to come over and make music at the event, and reported this to me with an evil grin on his face. So I went back to their table and asked Simon if he'd passed Eric's suggestion on. A look of blank panic planted itself on his face, and remained there until I reminded him who Eric was. I moved on, and eventually got my bags together and waited by the door. Eric came back in from his latest fag, I told him about Simon's blank, which generated a laugh. A few minutes later, and it was time for me to go, so go I did.
See you in two years!