For me it started nearly two years ago at Eastercon 1999 when we decided to do another one. Skipping to the Thursday before the con, when I'd acquired so much stuff to take down that public transport was out of the question, so my next-door neighbour kindly drove me to Ashford. I spent the journey explaining what it was all about and we even started talking about slash, which she'd never heard off but was amused to hear about. BBC Radio Kent rang me on route and arranged to do a telephone interview with me about the con at 8.10 Saturday morning. Aaargh!
Got to the hotel early Thursday afternoon and found the hotel had me down for a suite. No thanks I said, I want a normal room near Ops and that was sorted for me. Bumped into Michael Sheard and Gareth Thomas before going into town for something to eat. Popped into the Kentish Express offices and they said they'd try to get a reporter down over the weekend.
As the evening arrived, more people started arriving volunteering to help get things set up. However, due to others arriving later than expected with the badge parts and about half the stuff for the con packs, we didn't get any badge making done and only got the stuff I'd brought with me into the con packs.
Friday dawned and we got badge making and con packing teams to work. Tech gear arrived and everything seemed to be going smoothly, if somewhat hectically. Then we discovered that the walkie talkies for ops had gone to the wrong Ashford - they never did make it. Then we ran out of badge parts, which is why some on Friday had temporary passes. Eddie arranged for more parts to be couriered to us and they arrived Saturday morning. We then got hit by a double whammy on the video programme. We couldn't get the video and TV sets to work together so much time was spent running back and forth between tech people and the main hall and the video rooms - we could have done with those walkie talkies. The second problem was that the compilation four-hour block tapes of the video programme had been left behind and so we ended up using the original videos. Slight snag, we didn't have the B7 ones, but thankfully there was a full set in the auction and we used those. Apart from Sunday evening when they'd already been sold - sorry Rita and others who wanted to watch B7 then.
The rest of Friday afternoon is a bit of a blur up to getting things ready for the opening ceremony. I was a bit nervous this time for some reason and I can't really remember much about it apart from introducing Laurie and Steve K as Drazi War leaders.
Friday night and off to the the Freedom City room party (thanks Rita for hosting this) and I got an ace pic of Nicola Collie and Nickey Barnard, which will eventually appear on my web site. Had a brief break to go to tyhe new-zine launch party as Paula and I had our publication out, the proceeds of which kept us in drinks most of the weekend. Kathryn Andersen also showed one of the four copies of Staked Blake that exists (a Buffy Blakes 7 crossover zine) and Judith agreed to print a proper run for her, which pleased me as I have a story in it. This launch party replaced the Friday night turkey reading, cancelled for two Redemptions in a row - third time lucky in 03 hopefully.
Saturday morning and I was up in time to be interviewed reasonably coherently by BBC Radio Kent. Probably a good plan as I was on a panel at 10am on the B7 radio plays with Una and Rita (first time I've ever seen Rita that early at a con). The question was were they canon or bull and we decided both. While this was happening, Lesley and David were getting married somewhere in Ashford. I then spent an hour on the registration desk and got ready for taking 03 registrations before nipping off to the bring and buy sale, the official launch of our zine, though Richard had been selling some in the dealers room already. Flogged a few other bits and pieces in the sale too and donated left overs to Judith's Oxfam stall - couldn't be bothered taking them back.
Photographer turned up from the Kentish Express or Messenger, can't remember which. Took him round to photo various things and people. Hopefully something will appear, especially as a reporter rang me up afterwards to ask about stuff to go with the pictures. Then got junk from my room for the chaos modelling and turned into a Klingon for the Drazi challenge. Didn't stay in costume for long but I can't for the life of me remember if I got changed out of the costume before or after the panel I was on about Farscape and Lexx with Alison and Calle. I became a Centauri for the cabaret (thanks Nickey for doing my hair) - much cooler costume - and was once again astonished by the high quality of the fan entries, with a special mention to the Reduced Blake's 7 Company - excellent, no other word for it. Got changed again into my Rocky Horror jacket for the evening disco, though I spent more time in the bar than the disco, playing Wobblevision and the like. We did Shadow and to my shame I couldn't remember hardly anything about the episode - must rewatch it soon. The funniest moment was Michael Sheard eating moon discs - I hope someone captured that on camera.
I then spent a bit of time in the slash turkey reading, though I avoided reading any myself. Gareth popped in briefly and left with the words "Remember in prison your anus is never your own".
Sunday dawned and Ashford was covered in snow, so we immediately announced extra Drazi points for completed snowmen. Purples did well here making a snowman, snowdalek and snowpacman. Greens stayed in the warm. I helped move chaos models from one room to another ready for the filming. Then I helped Mike hide tribbles for the Tribble Hunt. We had to move a couple of items around when we discovered the filming was overrunning, but the result was well worth it when we watched it in the closing ceremony. Managed to juggle working on the reg desk, helping the auction, sorting the Drazi points and another panel, this time on how other shows treat telepaths with Rebecca and Kathryn.
Sunday afternoon and I was a scrutineer on the Florida style ruler of the universe election, during which time Rita tormented me for a whole hour as she tried to cheat. Debra and I then took the votes away for counting and discovered everyone had cheated with clearly photocopied ballot papers. David Walsh even put his room charge card in the box as a bribe. Closing ceremony now and I announced the purples and David Walsh had won again and gave out lots of prizes, then back to registration to take the final 03 registrations - we sold over 50 for a con in two years time, amazing. The special offer for early bookers lasts till the end of March, hint, hint. Missed the stewards party as a result.
Went to the slash debate. Someone suggested a sex with colostomy bag story and half the room turned to look at me. Humph! Have I got a reputation or what? This overran and continued for a while in another room. I ended up in bed at midnight (early for me at a con) totally exhausted.
Monday morning and realised my plan to take the train home as I'd have less to carry was a bad one. Much too much still for public transport. A bit of sorting out and Gaspo John agreed to give me a lift home - ta. Hugs and goodbyes in reception and it was all over. Thanks to everyone who came and helped and all the rest. I had a ball.
My only regret is I didn't have enough time to talk to some of the people who were there who I hadn't seen for a long time.
cheers - Steve Rogerson
Steve Rogerson's Photos.
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