And Stephen creating lots of filks, and me running and hiding every time we saw Steve R and the question of panels arose.
Once upon a time someone spoke the wise words thusly "And before a convention shall ye hie thee to bed early and sleep deeply". Obviously the gremlins were listening intently since RL dictated that neither of these was possible for me. (Potential redundancy situation. Unfortunately, I suspect that the "I'm not stupid, I'm not expendable and I'm not going" argument will fail to convince.)
Still, in a nice prequel to Redemption, we caught up with Judith and Anne and Julia on their Hamlet trip, the weekend before. At which I discovered that Anne was a belly-dancer too. In true committee-member fashion, Judith took our suggestion of a practice session and made it into a workshop and there went the plan solely to be an admiring audience (which was also dictated by RL).
Anyway, Thursday finally came, the bedroom was littered with discarded suitcases and the final choice of suitcase (the big one) was stuffed with sword and anything that I thought might come in useful as a hip scarf for potential workshop attendees.
No problems on the journey although the train was a tad full on the way to Ashford so I nursed the guitar on my lap and listened to the man opposite ooze smarm down his mobile phone to someone called Sara who had apparently applied for a job with him. Thought I might practice any latent telepathy and sent "Don't do it - he's an oily blob, you can do better than him" messages to the unknown Sara. Stephen guarded the case in the corridor.
After what may have been a slightly circuitous route to the hotel after the taxi driver asked us if we knew Ashford, we arrived. Hurrah! Saw a few committee members scattered around, checked in, and unloaded stuff in our room, which was on a completely different corridor and floor to last time but was quiet enough.
Went back downstairs, ordered drinks, sat around and chatted. Don't remember too much of the conversation but Richard was bewailing the loss of his favourite lurid shirt, and we generally established that due to the amount of hair and beards around we probably had a full complement of the cast of the Lone Gunmen with the exception of the pretty plastic people that the TV Moguls (*ptui*) deem essential. I think there was quite a lot of discussion of beards at that point, Harriet having turned up early. Oh and Richard delighted my tech authoring soul by openly reading the manual for his new digital camera. [[ Richard - it was only a few hours old at that time]]
Also caught up with Anne at some point who tells me that Lesley (bless her Centauri crest) has come up with the idea that Anne and I should dance in the Cabaret and Anne, accordingly, has brought along some notes for a simple dance we can do. After comparing schedules we establish a time on Friday evening for me to learn this. Since my dance teacher has told me that I can go up to intermediate, am feeling slightly more confident but ... Also wonder how to explain this to Harriet and Una to whom I have been protesting loudly in my resolution of not making a Cabaret appearance.
Gave Eddie and co a quick hand to unload, then went off to bed, due to extreme knackeredness which will get more extreme as weekend progresses.
And on to Fri morning. Breakfast was a good selection including fruit salad (yummy when someone else has done all the hard work of peeling and slicing) and two types of bacon (crispy streaky and juicy back). I have an appointment at the beauty therapy centre in the hotel for a pedicure at 10 because a) I like having my feet messed with and b) since they're being exposed to the general gaze this weekend, I might as well get them tarted up. Discover that my new black sandals leave major dirty smudges all over my feet - oh well. What's a bit of foot dirt among friends and complete strangers?
Assist with erecting signs, eat the first of many jacket spuds with tuna consumed over the weekend. Start sticking up Ares posters.
Time passes as is its wont, registration opens, familiar faces appear, hugs happen, chat gets chittered. Go to the Tarrant panel where Fifitrix does a wonderful job of convincing everyone how wonderful Tarrant is. Rita is sterling opposition. Unfortunately, we still all have to vote against Tarrant (bless his shiny white teeth) because, well, he's Tarrant and it's the rules, innit?
Meet up with Anne at some point and we go off to her room to rehearse. (I also get sneak preview of Lesley's wedding outfit) Decide we'd be better off reheasing in wider corridor space. Corridor instantly turns into Spaghetti Junction of hotel. Still we practice anyway. And smile politely each time we hear the "seven veils" joke.
And time for the opening ceremony. Stephen appears in full costume, and he and Rachel compare boots and interesting leather accessories. On way to hall, Stephen mistakenly lets someone else swing his sword who nearly decapitates a light fitting that is evidently the embodiment of all things evil and the pommel falls off (many bouncing balls died in pommel research). Never mind, pommel easily replaced and god of war swears that no-one else is going to get their hands on his weapon. (ooo-err, missus)
Opening ceremony is fun although Steve R is very shaky (bless his little divided Klingon/Centauri heart). Stephen forgets some of his lines but never mind, at least one person has told me he'd got their vote because of the leather trousers. (This happened several times later during the weekend.)
Mixer games followed by pub quiz. Servalan has problems with B5 names. Still, we do quite well and put down lots of answers. (Team (I think) includes Fifitrix, Kathryn Andersen, Nickey, Chris, Janet, Nicola, Jenny, Calle, Richard and me. Apologies if I've forgotten anyone.) I insist that it is Platform 9 3/4 and am vindicated later. Amazingly, we prove winners despite lack of Neil F on team, which is usually pre-requisite for scoring, and neighbouring team fouling up the marking three times.
Show up briefly at FC party although not currently on list. Have brief discussion with Ika about Sylvia Engdahl and am deeply envious that Ika actually owns copies of Enchantress and Far Side of Evil. *Sigh*. Nicola turns up in kinky top, out-kinking Nickey, which is going some.
Decide that I'm knackered and that I need to rehearse for tomorrow. Stephen leaves me to rehearse while he trundles off with the guitar looking for filkers.
Sat morning. Another good breakfast - stoking up for the day is very important. Drop some bits at the chaos costuming where Nicola is ready and waiting to be turned into Servalan. Fi, who is a shining star, offers to do my makeup later since I only have a very limited supply.
What happened then? I think it was the SF Cliches. Chris took copious notes so I'm sure she'll be sending off her proposal to the Beeb soon. I mention that an extremely shiny ship that is Better Than Any Ship Ever or a ship that looks like a regurgitated junkyard but has a souped-up turbo engine is essential. I think we have some discussion of Voyager at some point and I am heartened to find a Psi Cop who also enjoys it. One thing I forgot to add is that there must be some characters with an unfeasibly large number of apostrophes in their names.
Umm, what else? Evil overlords get discussed in another entertaining panel. All bemoan the lack of good minions and the need to have crap minions just in case a bright minion gets the bright idea of taking over her/himself. Predatrix cites the infamous Internet "evil overlord" list and also displays an interest the home life of our own dear overlords. Suspect that mentioning that Ares mixes an excellent Pimms is not a vote-winning prospect.
At some point, I have a discussion with Nickey re Ares poster "Vote Ares and the annoying blonde gets it" with picture of Ares throttling Gabby. Mention that I think Nickey could do an excellent annoying blonde. This leads to another costume confab with Fi and the emergence of Disco Gabrielle. Happily Nickey does not get throttled at the weekend but I suspect that there's quite a lot of potential for an annoying blonde (Gabby, Kes, Tom Paris, Buffy, Piri) party.
Rush off to do belly-dance workshop. Unfortunately, since it is a last-minute thing, we have to do it in the boulevard. Despite hiccups with sound system (Richard offered us the Proctor one, but there are no sockets in easy reach), we get a couple of takers and various onlookers. One taker is in ST:TOS minidress so Anne lends her veil as sarong style skirt. We have fun anyway despite invasion from small being and astonished stares from the hairdressers opposite.
Anne and I then go to Cabaret Rehearsal where we volunteer to go on first. We are determined to go on before Helen, knowing that what she has got planned will be fab. Some conflict over whether we can use the stage but I'm dancing barefeet and the stage is not foot-friendly.
Rest of afternoon is blur. Suspect I may have been writing taboo cards at some point since we seem to have been doing that on-and-off throughout the weekend. Oh yes, brief wander in the dealer's room and I buy a few zines. Star Four (excellent story by Nickey and a great B7 version of Down with Skool/How to be Topp from Neil F, hem hem, hello stars, hello sky thort i being utterly weedy and wet.)
Rush off to Fi's to be made-up and chat with her and Nicola who, having had Servalan costume constructed for her, is also being made up. Fi has some gorgeously funky make-up and smears it on lavishly. I then head back to my room, get changed into dance costume and then jingle my way down to find my dancing partner who promptly lends me a necklace (bless her generous heart) since I hadn't got as far as decorating the neckline on my top. (400 coins sewn individually round sleeves and hem were enough)
We stand in line nervously behind the fancy dress contestants and boy, am I glad that I'm not a judge. Nicola is resplendent as Servalan and later deservedly wins "Best Chaos Costume" as well as coming 2nd overall. Seven of Nine is very glam and the Galaxy Quest baby sleeps soundly through it all. There's also a very good Delenn and Sheridan, also a Centauri couple (one of whom is Helen). And we're on. Urk. We dance. We don't mess it up (ok, well some of my hip drops are on the wrong side in the middle repeat but who's going to notice? And I've already agreed with Anne that I can do forward eights while she does backward ones). There's applause (phew). It's over. Oof. Shake, baby, shake.
I hug Anne madly and rush round to the back of the hall so I can see Fi and Steve. Wonderwall goes down well as does the "Pylene Control" version of the Beautiful South's "Rotterdam". Amazing how many Beautiful South songs lend themselves to B7 filking - We Are Each Other (Blake and his clone), Ol' Red Eyes Is Back (change that to "one eye" and it's a song for Travis), I'll Sail This Ship Alone (go on, guess), Good As Gold (and stupid as mud, he'll carry on regardless - gotta be Tarrant) and the rest...
Rush back to Anne, and natter a bit. Miss David Walsh's "Money, Money, Money" alas but I do get to see "I will survive" and the dance with Iain. The dress is the one from Rumours of Death and luscious is it. Wonder if Servalan will get chained to a wall at some point but this doesn't appear to have happened.
The Reduced B7 Company are excellent and Alison rants splendidly. Find it tremendously easy to give Una the laughs I promised as do the rest of the audience. And I've never even seen Big Brother. Matthew and Iain are camping it up in great style.
Then Helen does a wonderful and funny Turkish belly-dance. Part of the Centauri costume has been removed, leaving her in full cabaret outfit. I recognise some of the moves (crossing camels, butterfly, bullfight). Anne and I are doubly glad that we went first. :-)
G'Kar and Londo get married by Judith, wearing another cloak - I lost track of the cloak count but all very glam. Wonder if velvet cloaks would do more to attract people back to established churches? Or studded collars like Rachel's instead of those boring white ones?
Time to change. I'm not being glam so settle for leggings and big T-shirt - good for hot sweaty dancing in. Get back down to the bar to discover Rachel in floaty white, Una in glittery purple (oh those boots - so disappointed to hear they're only rented) and Alison is slinky in Mortician black and boa (feather, not snake). Rob turns up in Franknfurter PVC and lots of black eye make up. Mmm, nice - a very sweet transvestite look. Nicola appears in gold sequins - also fab - the woman has been doing some serious shopping.
Introductions take place - "I'm Una McCormack's partner", "I'm Una McCormack's slum landlord", "And I'm Una McCormack" Er, Iain, no you're not, we're not that drunk. Ha! (Yet.) Wonder if there's a new game in fandom to be got out of this - actors have Kevin Bacon numbers, maybe fans should have Una McCormack numbers.
We dance on and off but the music isn't as good as it could be. DJs seem to have this mindset where they play sets of certain types of music and they won't deviate. And why do they never play the full version of "Loveshack"? I discover that you can belly-dance to a lot of pop and there's a great bit in Guns 'n' Roses "Paradise City" for shimmying to. Helen demonstrates that some people can do it brilliantly well. :-) Richard turns up too in shirt almost but not quite as lurid as the one whose demise he was lamenting, but gets his tiger feet moving. Nickey stands under the ultraviolet light at one point and yes, those swirls on her trousers glow alarmingly like she's about disappear in a puff of alien logic.
Crawl to bed hot, sweaty and wishing that I could remember that headbanging is not my strong suit these days.
Sunday - another day, another breakfast. Stephen and I collect all the wall game stuff, mark it, award points. Some great stuff, especially Paula's caption (snigger) - hopefully this will appear on a web site soon. (Thanks to Louise and Simon whose website I nicked the picture off while hoping that it hadn't been used recently in caption compo).
I join in the 2nd innings of the cricket - I still don't understand why I like this when I hate the actual game (overexposure as small child - suspect it's similar to peanut allergy). Harriet writes things down furiously - it's a complicated job. Chris and I take turns to spin the spinner and Chris makes remarks with appropriate terminology. I still don't know why LBW - where else are the cricketer's legs supposed to be?
Stephen and I run the Taboo game in the Boulevard and everyone enjoys it and wants to play later.
Hustings. Fun. Londo makes a comment to Ares from Pratchett's Small Gods but since a significant number of the audience profess faith in Ares and Ares then quotes Pratchett back at him, about it being hard to be an atheist on a world where the gods can come round and put bricks through your windows, it works in Ares' favour. A gift of a feed line and suspect it wasn't the put-down he was hoping for (he'd mentioned earlier that he had one lined up).
Ares does another song with Fi. Complaints from further along the row about this being the 12" version leading me to make the (now oft-repeated, I promise I won't do it again) joke "Ares? 12 inches? Oh yesss".
Closing ceremony - how can it be so soon? Servalan wins one more time (just like the Britney filk says - strange that.)
Slash panel - interesting. Good points raised. Am impressed by Judith's handling - it's a topic where lots of people have lots to say and she did a great job af making sure that those who did, could.
Join Nickey, Nicola and Fi for food and then Nickey has to go. Sob. Goodbyes are starting already.
Natter in the Boulevard for a bit but it's cold and we are accosted by mundanes. Stupidly, I have left my badge on so they start on me by name (grrrrr) so we run away before coming back to join another group for safety in numbers. Find out that Jane Killick's sexy blue leather dress is from Top Shop of all places and was a bargain in their sale. Coo. Retire to bed.
Monday - more goodbyes and possible plans for next time. By the sounds of it there could be some new and interesting entries for ruler of the universe. Feel I haven't seen enough of anyone. Alas.
So many, many thanks to all the committee (Judith, Steve, Chris O'S, Lesley, Eddie, Anne and Nik) for another excellent con. And bless them all, they're going to do it again.
Regrets - I managed to miss all the telepathy stuff - rats. And the costume panels - double rats. But then, that's a sign of a good con - too much rather than too little. And some of what I missed was down to me and my drained energy banks too.
Realised, just after I'd clicked send (natch), that I'd forgotten to mention Iain's Performance Lessons panel. I think other people have commented about what took place in it already but I wanted to add that I thought Iain did a great job in this panel, picking 3 scenes (2 B7 and 1 B5 - Bester and Garibaldi on Mars where Bester reveals to Garibaldi what has been done to him) and preparing script pieces for people to get up and have a go. And of course they did, so kudos to all involved for making another great session.
I guess there were no photographs taken of the Una-Avon/Calle-Anna death scene. Alas. A truly great theatrical moment goes unrecorded. (Unlike the original performance which, viewing it again after Una and Calle's rendition, one has to realise is total and utter pants).
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