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 DWDiscworld Updated: 08/08/18

Dragony-type goodness

Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday

Right, so, the plan was to get to Leeds early and pick up the rental car, drive home and load up, then be off down to Warwickshire by noon. It went mostly according to plan - I only left twenty minutes late. I had prepared my supplies, music, clothes, laptop, various chargers, and so on the night before, and I managed to get them all in the boot in one trip. Things I forgot included blu-tak, crisps, the printouts of the programme that I'd marked with what I wanted to do, and how to get to the other side of Bradford. Bradford is not a big city, and I have driven through it to get to the M606 on multiple occasions. Yet this time, my brain couldn't have been functioning (put it down to the fact that the housing association had yesterday found another excuse to demolish the flats where I live and had called a consultation of residents with zero notice), and I spent half an hour going in circles, partly because Bradford has no signposts. Finally got to somewhere I knew where I was, and made it to the motorway about 70 minutes late. Most of the rest of the journey down wasn't too bad, but then there were roadworks on the M1 just before I left it, and the tailbacks wiped out all the time I had made up coming down, and added quite a bit more. Eventually got to Kenilworth 90 minutes after I had intended. Checked into my B&B, deposited most of my stuff, and drove straight over to the Con hotel. After about an hour I went back to the B&B, had dinner, and came back to the hotel for the Opening Ceremony. When that was over, I had a bit of a wander. I still wasn't feeling entirely there, so I had a bit of an explore of the forest paths beyond the hotel grounds.


I had also forgotten the SD card for my camera, so if I wanted pictures I was limited to what could be stored on the camera's internal memory, which, according to the display, was six pictures. I came back to the hotel, and found Essy and Torak and assorted mini-thems in a quiet bit of the bar, so joined them. Didn't feel like going to Bedtime Stories, since the steamroller incident meant that there would be nothing new of PTerry's being read. The DWS meet also didn't seem to materialise, so I stayed put, talking to Kirstine. At around midnight, I called it a day and headed back to the B&B, where I fortunately remembered that my programme printouts were a spreadsheet that was still open on my hibernating laptop.

Saturday began bright and early for me, when I threw up for no apparent reason. Managed a tiny bit of breakfast, went for a walk to try and get some biscuits or something, then drove over to the hotel. I had missed most of the first programme item I had wanted to see, so I went to L-Space1 in preparation for the guild meeting in ten minutes. I wanted to check what else I had on today, so that meant my laptop, and that meant using the table at the front. I had finished and was munching through biscuits by the time other people started arriving. The guilds this year were secret societies, and I was in SQuEAK - the Society of Questers after Esoteric and Arcane Knowledge, and we came up with lots of knowledge-based ideas about making our presence felt throughout the Con. People even donated prizes so we had something to reward people with who passed our tests. (I was sitting at the end of the table, the two guild leaders were sitting several feet away in the middle, someone came up to the front to donate a prize, and I had to tell them, "I'm not in charge, I was just misusing the facilities.")


I'm unsure what I did next, probably just had a bit of a wander seeing who was around or not. I think I came back to L-Space1 for most of The Unsecret Society, about DW fandom and how we express it. After that, I probably had lunch (chips from the tuck shop), then it was off to L-Space 2 for How to Steal a Henge, a very mini LARP between the secret societies, the point of which was to steal an ominous brightly-wallpapered standing stone from the basement of another secret society. Difficulties included things like accidentally activating the stone, Thieves' Guild roadblocks, and negotiating the stairs. We got the Dwarf interior designer who'd installed the stone ("We're taking it out into the light so we can get a good iconograph of it"), and the doorkeeper, who wanted to know the password. Before I could say, "Swordfish,", he gave a Guards! Guards!-esque passphrase, which the leader (by which I mean he was standing at the front of our group) of our team managed to counter. The doorkeeper then said another passphrase, which included something about a duck. I was quicker on the trigger this time. "What duck?" After a few cycles of this, he gave up and let us out. It was a technique that would serve us well on our second run as well.

Next, it was off to the marquee (Psuedopolis Yard) for Ray Friesen and Translating the Stories to Graphics. It was an interesting talk and Q&A, but rather drowse-inducing in the heat. Then back to L-Space2 for Mornington Crescent, then back out to the marquee for the readthrough of Men At Arms. I had volunteered for this, but hadn't actually been told anything in response so I wasn't sure I would be needed. I was - I had been given the part of Lord Vetinari. Due to low turnout, I also read Cornice-Overlooking-Broadway (a gargoyle with a permanenly open mouth). I was congratulated for my portayal of both characters, the latter of which got many laughs, and the former of which was apparently very different to Stephen Briggs'. It was now 6pm and I was very hungry, so I went back to the B&B to eat and change and grab stuff, then back to the hotel. I arranged to put my stuff for the Hedgehog Party in L-Space and have the room locked during the Maskerade, then I headed to Treacle Mine Road (the main communal area) and hung around waiting for the queue for the Maskerade to start moving. I needed slip in the back due to the need for a quick getaway at the end, what with the Hedgehog Party starting straight afterwards, and I was DJ-ing again.

The Party went well. I was still hungry, and there was some trouble with the decks not cueing as advertised, and other little fiddly things, but the assigned Techy (Deborah) was very good at sorting it out. At the guild meeting that morning, SQuEAK had accumulated more prizes than we had planned activities, so it was now my job to give the surplus away as prizes for knowledge of dances. The first one went to Mike who started people dancing when La Bamba came on (Kirstine: Why did you have to give him more sugar?), and things continued from there. Most enthusiastic air guitar, stamina, alternative lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody, things like that. About halfway through, I played The Muppets' version of Bohemian Rhapsody, and Kirstine thought it was the funniest thing ever that everyone was trying to sing along to the real version while the Muppets muppeted through the speakers. At one point Essy did some air guitar in her Igorina costume which included a loose red skirt and high heels - Oh hell, that's distracting, look at the decks, Brian, look at the decks! We finished just before two with a second rendition of The Timewarp followed by the real Bohemian Rhapsody, which I joined in as much as possible. Then it was time to shut down, tidy up, and bugger off, which I did fairly quickly because I knew I had another fairly early start in the morning.

I was up late, but no vomiting, so yay! Breakfast, then off to the hotel for Peter Morwood talking about violating laws of thermodynamics when using magic, which was as amusing and informative as anything he gets the chance to burble on about. Then I found somewhere quiet for an hour to do internet stuff, then it was off to Ramkin Residence for Go/Fence. Over the course of the event, I faced most of the other people in the room, and only took three hits - two from a young lady in a black dress, one from an older gentleman in a white T-shirt. A nice relaxing little exercise of my fencing muscles. Then I had to leave a few minutes before the end so I could get to the other end of the hotel and take part in the Here Be Dragons panel. I felt a little out-gunned sat between Daniel Knight and Phil Masters, with Peter Morwood on the other side of Phil, but I think I made some useful contributions. Afterwards, I grabbed some chips from the tuck shop and took my time with them. Then it was back to Psuedopolis Yard for How to Buckle a Swash, and some weaponry examination. The talky and demo-y bit didn't go on too long on this occassion, and so there was plenty of time for the hands-on bit, examining all the various weapons and talking about their use and techniques. Good stuff to remember. Then it was back to the B&B for food, get changed, and back to the hotel to see what was going on.


The answer - not a lot. I had just missed the pre-gala dinner gathering, so now it was just the street party, the Toast & Jam, and making your own entertainment. Kirstine had apparently been only recently roped in to run the entertainments at the street party, and was looking a little over-worked, so I started making myself useful. I set up Twister, helped construct the Walk (that no one used), and pretty much took charge of the dragon piñata (called Horace), which was unreliably attached to the ceiling, made from cardboard and papier mâché, and stuffed with sweets. We borrowed Tiko's fabulous hat for a blindfold, and a rather lovely young lady who was passing was kind enough to lend us her mace to use as a hitting-thing, and in doing so abandoned the attempt at passing. We had to insist on only taking sideways swings (unless, like many of those who had a go at it, they were too short to reach with a sideways swing), and one swing per turn. I think it must have been around 9.30 that I managed to head over to the Toast and Jam and see what was going on. I browsed the selection of available accompaniments, and selected Life on Mars. Managed it quite well, I thought, then took to the sidelines to prepare for another. Then someone with a ukelele came to the front and started Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. That is not a song I am comfortable with, given my name.


I returned to the Street Party and resumed barking the piñata. Horace had been quite badly damaged by now, and refilled several times, but the final blow was struck after 11pm by Gideon, after which we hung a sign on the shattered remains of Horace. "Deaf 2 Dragonz", wrote Kirstine with a sharpie. "A warning and example to others", I added in biro. Not being able to find the lady whose mace it was, who I had seen playing with poi on my way to the T&J, I returned her mace to Ops, and continued helping with what was left of the Street Party. Things wound down. We tidied up. I went back to the B&B.

Came down to breakfast at the B&B and spotted a lady wearing an AMCW T-shirt. Not having ingested food yet, it took me a while to parse that as Ankh-Morpork City Watch. As I was eating, another guest came in and started chatting. The lady in the AMCW T-shirt tried to explain about DWCon, and mentioned that it was her first time attending. Having started on my porridge by this point, I felt it only fair that I contribute to the conversation, so I did. Food, conversation, off to the hotel, quarter to ten. Caught the end of Swamp Dragon's Den in L-Space1, then went to find wi-fi signal for a few minutes, then back down to L-Space1 for the PTerry Memorial event. This was basically a highlight reel from the official memorial celebration held a few months after his death. Near the end, Eric Idle came on and played that song again, so I closed my eyes and stuck my fingers in my ears. Other than that, it was a rather moving programme item. Afterwards, an hour of nothing much, then off to Psuedopolis Yard for the Narrativia Q&A, about the projects what the company created to handle PTerry's estate is actually dealing with. Apparently, Mort, Good Omens and The Watch are the only active projects, and they are receiving approaches every day. After that, off to L-Space1 for the ConCom/Hotel feedback session, where I asked that they consider lengthening the Maskerade time limit to two minutes.

Next, the only thing on the programme was the production of Night Watch. I decided not to watch, and found Essy in the bar. I sat down next to her to eat my chips as she GMed her young charges through a Harry Potter game. Then they went swimming, so I wandered over to where Torak, CCA and others were sat, a chair was found, and a game of Red Flags (a game similar to Cards Against Humanity themed around dating) was played. Then some milling around, saw the lady in the AMCW T-shirt again, and managed to grab Gideon as he went past to explain to her why it was called the Dead Monkey Party. Also showed her one of the posters for my books (series now complete, and available from all reputable and disreputable online retailers). Closing ceremony, nice and quick (comparatively speaking), good to see Taz revealed as the new ConCom Chair (something I probably should have been able to guess, given her proliferation at this Con, and the shortness of the cloaked figure as they appeared on stage). Out to the car park, open my boot, dump bag, T-shirt off, shirt on, grab the bag of epaulettes, close and lock car, round the back of the hotel to the Dead Monkey Parade mustering point. Epaulettes got handed out, along with elastic bands to keep them on, Torak gave me a red sash as Ornamental Sergeant Major, we gave them a brief briefing on what we were going to do, and then we were off. At the end of the route, Bernard took the salute and gave what I'm sure he thought was an inspiring speech, and we completed the march up to Treacle Mine Road. We dispersed, the epaulettes were returned, I grabbed a hotdog for dinner, dumped stuff in the car and changed into a T-shirt again, then back to the bar to grab a drink (free, due to helping out at the Street Party last night), and oh look, a game of Werewolf. I survived! The first time I ever managed to still be alive at the end of a game of Werewolf! I was the only one from the village still alive, but the werewolves had all been killed. I wasn't so lucky the next game. After that, numbers depleted somewhat, so furniture was rearranged and we played Secret Hitler (which ended depressingly quickly), followed by another game of Red Flags. People tended to drift off on tangents, though, so I gave up and wandered off to look at the massive game of Werewolf going on in Treacle Mine Road - the werewolves (of which Essy was one) won that one. I checked what time people might be available in the morning to say goodbye to, then headed off to bed.

Breakfast, pack, load the car, check out, to the hotel. Retrieve the posters for my books? No, they've all been taken down, almost certainly by the hotel, and therefore binned. Bugger. There was only one retrievable, so retrieved it. Found everyone who hadn't already said goodbye to me to say goodbye to, except Heather and Essy. Anticipating a difficult journey home, followed by a mad dash through Leeds in rush-hour to return the car, I left a few minutes after 11am. Fortunately, the journey was not difficult, the roadworks barely slowed the traffic down, and I was back home by 2pm. I unloaded the car, briefly checked in online, then off to Leeds. Car returned three hours before the deadline, so now the only problem was getting back home on a rush-hour train <sigh>.

What next?