Hey, I've Got A Long Black Leather Coat Too!
It's been interesting reading other people's reports, because their experience doesn't seem to mesh much with mine. Not that I disagree, but I just seemed to be Elsewhere, all the time. It's quite weird, really.
The big case was too big for Edinburgh's normal systems, so had to go through the outsize baggage entrance, just like the guitar. I was concerned about the X-Ray machine. "What's that big, sword-shaped thing?" "It's a sword." But that didn't happen. Think I'm vaguely disappointed.
Flight fine. Train to London Bridge fine. Train to Ashford unbelievably slow. There are *so* many stations. I'm convinced we were going around in circles, while someone changed the signs. We finally got to the hotel at about 9:30pm, to be greeted by Steve R, Judith, Michael Sheard, and a pile of press-ganged con-pack stuffers.
Dumped stuff in room, got beer, and sat down. "First events" were discussed, and I borrowed Judith's programme to refresh my memory. "Why's it got my name on it?" I wondered, noticing the "Steve K and Laurie" scrawl at the top. Steve swiped it back for a second. "There you go. Hasn't now." Uh-huh.
Tech arrived, and we braced ourselves for shifting tons of gear to the secure store for Chris, Eddie and Tim. Turned out to be so many people eager to help that it was difficult to find something occupy both hands.
One of the hotel staff came out of the bar, holding several movie quiz sheets. "Can't put them up in the bar," he said. "It's a public area." Damnit. Eddie thought he'd remembered something of the kind from last year, and now that he mentioned it, it rang a bell. So, no Ares posters in the bar.
"I think we may as well open registration," Steve said. "No point waiting." Fair enough, I thought. I'll get around to registering later. No rush. On with the paper. One of the advantages of this sort of job is that you get to know the hotel layout quickly. Numerous people needed directions to one room or another, and funnily enough, I now knew where.
"Hey, steve," said Steve, "Registration's open. You can register now." Yeah, ok Steve, I thought. Lemme get this lot out of the way first.
Someone told me that Becky had arrived, so I headed over to the dealer's room and introduced myself to Xena. Judith had commandeered her for typing things into the laptop, so I left her to it. Saw Kat in the bar. "Just met Becy," I said. "Judith's got her typing something up. Last thing I heard her enter was your name." Kat was understandably nervous about this; I think it was Eddie who explained they were sorting out little slips to tell people where to be, and when; Kat's would have been for the belly-dancing workshop in the Boulevard.
Steve pounced. "I've registered you," he said, gleefully. "Here's your con-pack, here's your badge, and here," he said, relishing the moment, "is your sash. You're purple Drazi leader."
"Bastard!" I said, never being short of a witty retort. In fact, that was about all I said for the next few minutes, while Steve explained that *now* I knew why my name was on Judith's programme. "Bastard," I added, by way of clarification.
Somewhere along the line, the Tarrant panel happened. Fi and Rita both entertained us with masterly comments on why Toothy was good/bad. Particularly good because both panellists had to check which side they were on, before starting the debate. There were occasional forays into seriousness, such as the argument that all of Tarrant's actions could be said to be acting out of self-interest, rather than heroism, and what the heck happened to the rest of his family when he deserted. But the threats were mostly of the sarcastic and personal-abuse levels. Great fun.
And that, I think, was the only panel I went to purely as one of the audience.
I think it was about now that Fi and I repaired to my room for a little while, while we worked out which filks to have available for the cabaret, and then came the Opening Ceremony, which meant getting into costume.
Down into the bar beforehand (fortification), where the Cambridge contingent were encamped. Greetings all round, and Rachel and I compared boots. She won on sole, while I won on buckles. Top Trumps for foot fetishists.
Usual concom and guest introductions, then the two Drazi war leaders (clomp, clomp, up onto the stage, look purple, clomp clomp back down again). And then the Ruler of the Universe intros. Just 30 seconds, I'd been told. Ok. I was expecting about two-three minutes, but I chopped it. Not to mention forgetting some of the lines, but never mind. There were laughs, which was the objective. Spike was a no-show here, because the Sheridan-death thing meant a costume change to Lord Refa. Jon never did manage to get the Refa crest working, but he did manage to get back in as Spike before the Ceremony closed.
During the Pub Quiz, I was mostly at the bar. For some reason, I expected a break for drinks in the middle, and was anticipating the rush. Instead, I got back to the table to find that almost all questions had been answered already. What questions I could answer, other people had already answered anyway, so I sat back and Looked Managerial. Or something.
And we won. Three times. At Kathryn's said, don't blame us - wasn't our marking. Anyway, we all got Drazi points, and most of them came to me.
Then the mixer games, which I mainly took part in by filling in other people's slips. Didn't chase around myself, since I wasn't the steadiest of people on my feet, what with the huge boots and sword...
And we won again! More drazi points. Admittedly, they were green, not purple, but they somehow managed to get donated to the Purple fund anyway.
Things became a bit of a blur after this. I went up to the filking session, but alas, I don't know folk/trad music, so couldn't play along. Memo to self: must learn some of this stuff before '03. Some scarily good voices there, though, and some scarily haunting lyrics. Pat: I'll have a more tunable guitar for next time, promise.
I forget what happened next. Think I ended up in the bar, listening to Neil and Pat talk about Patricia Cornwell, and Alison and Una talking about Steve and Paula's new zine, and ... oh, I don't know. But it was fun.
Finished off by collecting the adult sheets for the wall games, and noticing the distinct lack of entries thus far. Sigh.
There was also supposed to be a Murder Mystery panel, but Jon had got it moved to 5pm, so I didn't have to be anywhere at 10am. Hurray.
By and large, I don't recall the order of events during Saturday, so instead, there's a random selection:
Evil Overlords: Nicky directing us in How We'd Kill The Hero Quickly, and other things. Ares and Spike mugging furiously. Spike explaining that he gets his minions from Minions'R'Us.
Mastermind: Henry and Roberta's usual professionally-run quiz (although the TV version doesn't have someone shouting "BuBeep buBeep buBeep!" when the time runs out). Some faffing with the order because Leslie and David had some minor trifle to take care of, and were stuck in another session. Me (7pts) and Jon (10?) on Buffy, Jane (6?) on B7, Leslie and a couple of people on B5 whose names I forget (more) and David on SG-1 (17). Right, we'll all clear off now, then.
No, we stuck around for the general knowledge, and I amazed myself by getting three. Usually, I'm amazed to even have *heard* of the programmes Henry's asking about. But David won, pretty much beating everyone else's scores added together. Film at Eleven.
btw, there was exactly one audience member, who turned up partway through. Was there a Gareth talk on, or something?
Taboo cards: Kat and I spent an hour scrawling cards in the Boulevard, and explaing to everyone what was going on. I also bunged up a big poster on a clip-board, explaining both this and the movie quiz. And I went around the remaining function rooms, putting up the final movie quiz posters, including giving one to Fi for Room 201. Never managed to get one into the Zine library, though - always seemed to be locked when I tried...
Got grabbed by Leslie and told that I'd be in the B5 Balloon debate, since I had the beard, hair and height for Marcus. Um, ok. No costume, though.
Cabaret rehearsal, i.e. stand around and look confused for a while. Claire Goodall went into Organisation Overload, and sorted things out, while Chris O'Shea tried to get a word in. :-) Agreed with tech that we'd come back for a soundcheck later, since I had the balloon debate, and Fi had the chaos costuming.
Balloon debate: Marcus, Delenn, G'Kar, Garibaldi and Londo in a balloon, with Gary overseeing the debate. And who wouldn't let me out just because they already had a full balloon. Marcus' opening justification for staying in: "We live for the One, we die for the One. And I'm sitting *next* to the One, which puts me on pretty shakey ground..."
I got chucked out second, after Garibaldi, despite the blinding logic of pointing out that we already _knew_ how Londo and G'Kar would die, so if we chucked them out, it wouldn't kill 'em...
Plan was to be back to the main hall, for the sound check but instead there was the small matter of the Murder Mystery questioning. And the Klingon Drazi War Leader challenge. Um, what? These were both on at the same time. Steve! What's this? He suggested I send a delegate, so I delegated Rachel. Not only was she Purple, but she was *way* more likely to intimidate a Klingon than lil ol' me. She graciously agreed, and went off to wreck havoc.
So, just soundcheck and murder mystery to deal with. And the Ambassador's Party. Um what? Come and meet all the Candidates, plus the War Leaders, plus the Klingons, or something. I dunno, but I was in it. A hurried discussion with Jon, and he agreed to release me early.
A loooong wait followed, whle Spock and Ares waited for Spike to morph into Refa. Crest troubles again. Alos, we moved from the Boulevard to the Mountbatten, so that we could grab a table. There were scripts for us. Eak! Lines to learn!
Did my bit, and then Fi and I did our soundcheck (thus removing any opportunity to blame a bad performance on tech). There was some question about how long David would take to change frocks, so we agreed to do two short songs, and if a filler was needed, we'd do a third. After that, we'd be a bit knackered... Then the Ambassador's Party.
This turned out to be a group of people in the Wishart, just yakkin' away. Didn't appear to be any particular function or theme. A little confused, but I had some discussions, including about the nature of an Australian Riding Coat, which I found fairly funky.
Then the Cabaret was upon us. By and large, I didn't see much, being in the side corridor for most of it. Lots of applause and laughter, though, so congratulations to all involved. Natch, I *did* watch Kat and Ann do the belly-dancing. :-) I wouldn't have guessed that it was a routine they hadn't done before that afternoon, if I hadn't known already. Coo.
Then me and Fi. Sorry about the first one, folks. Afterwards Fi asked me if she'd got the timing wrong. Nope. Me. I was asked afterwards about the "unusual chords" I'd used for Wonderwall. Mostly because I moved from verse to bridge halfway through the verse. Twice. Sigh. Oh well, it was fun.
The Cabaret done, I mellowed out in the hall, secure in the belief that I was done for the day. "You've got a panel at 10pm", said Steve R, who was turning out to be my own little Programme Pixie of Bad News. :-) Oh yeah, SF Press in the UK. This idea started out as an opportunity for me to bitch about SFX, since basically, it's Loaded, with spaceships. Also on the panel were Jane Killick and Andy Lane. So, Andy Lane: current guest, screenwriter, article writer, interviewer; Jane Killick: former guest, professional genre writer; me: uninformed punter with an opinion and no credentials. I was marginally surprised that David wasn't there, too. Joe Nazarro did turn up partway through to offer a viewpoint as well.
But overall, I found it to be a fun and interesting discussion. All three of the professionals bemoaned the way the industry works ("we've got these photos; write something to go with them."), but acknowledge the demon for what it is. Put Buffy on the cover, and sell ten times the number of issues.
Right, *now* I was done for the day. Back to the Mountbatten, and a mellow time was had, while Hanst, Fi and I discussed guitar and music, with the occasional bit of bopping. Helen belly-danced all the way through the disco, which was damn impressive, and Rob was just, well, *deeply* scarey. Especially considering he was sober.
Plus, I was trying to survive the weekend, by mixing the beer with more sensible lemonade, so I was completely put to shame by the professionals from Cambridge. We don't have time to queue at the bar, the bottle of Laphroig declared, we're *serious*.
The drazi war was getting out of hand by now. Being somewhat tied up with other things, I'd been a shamefully lazy Purple leader, and done nothing at all apart from accept the points from my (apparently extremely active) minions. The Purples were out building snowmen, while the Greens were distracting me and stealing points from my folder. [ironically, these were points to be awarded for the wallgames, and some of them were probably Green to begin with; after such immoral behaviour, I decided the most just approach was to just hand the whole lot into Steve, and see whether *he* noticed that I'd written badge numbers on them. Maybe they just all went to Purple...]
Finished off the Taboo cards (or, at least, all the index cards I had left), and grabbed Fi for some rehearsal. While messing around after the disco last night, I'd revealed that I'd half-filked the Britney Spears song to go with the Ruler contest. Fi was up for singing the finished version, so I did a couple more verses, and then we practised for a bit.
Into the hustings, and boy, was it a disappointing turn-out. Where were you all? But there was enough. We got on stage, and we did our thing. "Oh no, he's gonna sing." went around the all. Sorry. And ok, so it was a verse too long, but there were laughs in the appropriate places. And it was probably better than the rest of the intro and outro speeches I had planned.
There were some strange moments, like being stared down by a stuffed teddy bear, and Londo offering me a gift of a feed line. But suddenly it was over, and there was nothing to do but wait for the result.
Actually, there was the Taboo game. There was still a panel going on in the Romney, so we took over a table in the Boulevard, and played there. For those of you who've never heard it, you get cards with a title on it, which you have to get your team members to guess, and five words or phrases which you can't say, at the same time. We had a fun time for an hour, and agreed to carry on at a later time.
I'm not sure what I did between now and the closing ceremony. Food, I think. But then it was all over: Purples had hammered the Greens, despite not cheating nearly as much (I put it down mostly to quizzes and snowmen), and Servalan was ruling yet again. I got 16 1/2 points, I think. I was out-voted by the Teddy Bear. The penalty of losing a staring contest with a stuffed toy.
Sunday evening was a major wind-down. Kat and I had a meal in the restaurant (first solid meal since Wednesday night), and Kat went off to the slash panel, while I did the tear-down of the posters (I got less than half the movie quiz ones back; I think most went in the bin, but I suspect that there's still on the air conditioner of video room two), and then the Taboo resumed. We had a massive two-and-a-half-hour session, with Pinky coming out with some amazing clues for the Brain ("Chronological Sea Creature with Tentacles"). Great fun, and the team assimilation aspect works really well. Poor Henry and Roberta ended up being faced by a team of about six people before they were finally defeated.
Yakking in the Boulevard after this. Caught up with Kat, Nicola and Fi, after the slash panel, and we discussed the science of vampires in genre with Steve. We got accosted by two annoying and intrusive mundanes, so ran away for a bit, and joined a bigger group (Tavia, Neil, Jane, Mark, Ika, and others) for security, and then spent a while talking to Jane Killick about, well, pretty much everything from US TV commissioning to Top Shop...
...until David, Lesie and Ann turned up at the station twenty minutes later. So a nice discussion was had back up to London Bridge.
Once we got to the airport, we discovered the Edinburgh had disappeared under the snow. We got back eventually, but on the early afternoon flight that had been delayed until the evening. we were really grateful we'd decided to get a late flight and hang around at the hotel. We'd have been gutted if we'd had to get up and race off, only to spend five hours stuck at Luton.
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